Charlie Quarterman, one of the breakaway stars of this year’s Giro d’Italia, is set to retire from professional cycling at the end of the current season in part due to the stress of the sport's contract uncertainty.
The 25-year-old Brit lit up the Giro in May with aggressive riding in the breakaway, which came close to putting him in contention for a maiden Grand Tour stage win on several occasions.
Quarterman signed for Corratec-Selle Italia at the start of the season which he has now said will be the final part of his journey as a professional cyclist. Prior to joining the Italian ProTeam, Quarterman also spent three-years at WorldTour giants Trek-Segafredo (now known as Lidl-Trek).
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, the 25-year-old from Oxford announced that he would call time on his promising career after the upcoming Italian autumnal classics.
“There's not really a headline reason why,” Quarterman said when asked why he’s made the decision to step away from the sport.
"It's not one particular health issue, it's not a complete loss of love for cycling, it's kind of a whole load of things that have been weighing me down probably since I left Trek when I did but I'm in a good place now, I'm happy to stop, and it's on my terms.”
The 25-year-old explained that several severe bouts of heatstroke in the current season had also led to him recognising how much strain he was putting on his body, which he said was not sustainable long term.
A late night hospital visit left him seriously reconsidering his future as an athlete.
“At the Tour de Poitou de Charentes at the end of August the first day was like 200 kilometres and it was about 40 degrees average,” he explained. “Basically, I went so deep on a stage that wasn't that hard. I really gave everything to try and stay on the same time, because I knew there was a TT coming up.
“I went so deep that after crossing the line, in the next two hours, I nearly fainted twice and ended up being sick about 10 times, and I was in hospital at about three in the morning.
“It's not the first time I'd been in hospital for heatstroke, but it was definitely the worst. It took at least a week or two to recover. It was a really extreme thing, and a really extreme case of it.”
As well as health issues and the effect racing was having on him physically, the former Cycling Weekly columnist explained that the stress surrounding “the contract game” had become too much to deal with in recent years.
His agent's phone wasn’t as busy in the weeks following the Giro as either of them had hoped.
“I was hoping that the rides I was doing at the Giro this year would have translated into more interest but it didn't have the impact I was hoping for,” he said. “In the last couple of years, the ups and downs I've been through, I mean the contract game is something that starts in January already so the stress just doesn't stop.
"But I've also been through enough of these situations to know that is not always that straightforward. At the time I was able to just enjoy the Giro for what it was… I was really living in the moment and loving that.
"I guess it was more tricky in the races around it actually. Because even when I was in good shape, I still wasn't able to have the impact that you would expect from someone who was performing at the Giro at a high level.
“So the contract stress in general is part of the reasoning behind it [retirement] but it's not even the straw that broke the camel's back when you look at the wider picture,” he added.
Looking ahead to the future, Quarterman said he wouldn’t rule out staying within the sport in the short term. However, his longer term plan is to move into the economic sector after completing his degree which he has been studying for alongside bike racing.
He said: “I'm ready for a new challenge and to just enjoy the sport for what it is from the outside. I'm actually really loving my economics degree that I'm currently doing in France… the idea of working in that sector one day really excites me.”
Quarterman joked that his final races in the sport might not have the fairytale ending that other higher profile riders have been able to experience.
“I think it might be a little bit tough [at the Coppa Bernocchi, Tre Valle Varesine and Gran Piemonte]. I don't think I'll be like the big stars that manage to win their last races or Cancellara that wins in the Olympics to finish it off but at least I'll be there.
"I’ll be staying focused on the job because in cycling there are zero gifts. You can't do this job and you can't race well if you're feeling too emotional and nostalgic and can't get your head in the game.”
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